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Report 3 French Students and Pervian Engineer Slain by Indians

October 28, 1989

LIMA, Peru (AP) _ Three French university students and a Peruvian mining engineer were killed by members of an Indian tribe they were filming on a river expedition in Peru’s Amazon jungle, police said Friday.

Police in Chiclayo said a report from Bagua, a river town 435 miles north of Lima, said the four were shot to death and their bodies dumped into the Maranon River. The report said the bodies were seen in the river Oct. 10 near Santa Maria de Nieva, 600 miles north of Lima, but they were not retrieved.

The victims were on a filming expedition of Aguaruna Indians on the Maranon in the northeastern state of Amazonas, according to Julio Quispe, a telephone company official in Chiclayo, 465 miles north of Lima.

Quispe said in a telephone interview that he was in radio contact with Wilder Sanchez, a telephone company employee and brother of Ramiro Sanchez, the mining engineer.

Quispe said Wilder Sanchez went to the area after hearing his brother had been killed and gave the following account:

The Frenchmen, all in their 20s, were on a canoe trip following the Maranon from its source in the Andes to the Amazon basin when they met Ramiro Sanchez, a 23-year-old engineer working at a gold mining project.

The engineer, who spoke French and was familiar with the area, agreed to accompany the students on their expedition. After being briefly detained Oct. 6 at an army outpost at Puerto Imazita, 495 miles north of Lima, the four continued down the river and on Oct. 7 stopped at Puerto Nativo de Chipe, a village of Aguaruna Indians near Santa Maria de Nieva.

He said the Indians apparently attacked when the group tried to film members of the tribe.

The Lima newspaper El Comercio said reports broadcast by a radio station in Jaen, a town 445 miles north of Lima, said one of the students was shot when some Indians tried to steal the group’s film equipment. It said the three other victims tried to escape in a boat but were pursued and slain by the Aguarunas.

Victoria Pita, spokeswoman for the French Embassy in Lima, said officials there had no information on the reports and were investigating. There were conflicting versions of the names of the students and she said the embassy was attempting to determine the identities.

In the same area in 1979, a group of Aguaruna Indians attacked and burned the camp of German film director Werner Herzog during the filming of the movie ″Fitzcarraldo.″

The Aguaruna are a branch of the Jivaro tribe, known for its poison-dart blowguns and history of head-hunting. Most of the Indians, who are believed to number about 30,000, are fisherman or small-plot farmers.

Quispe said Sanchez told him over the radio that the names of the Frenchmen were Jaime Terry Paul, 24, Joseph Trichpo Olarf, 28, and Jean Christophe Monviale, 24.

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